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MLA Citation: The Basics. Owl @ Perdue University. Basic In-Text Citation Rules.

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mla citation the basics

MLA Citation: The Basics

Owl @ Perdue University

basic in text citation rules
Basic In-Text Citation Rules
  • In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what is known as parenthetical citation. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase.


general guidelines
General Guidelines
  • The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1.) upon the source medium (e.g. Print, Web, DVD) and (2.) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited (bibliography) page.
  • Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. The name you provide in the text, must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry in the Works Cited List.
in text citations author page style
In-Text Citations: Author-Page Style
  • MLA format means include author/page for in-text citation.
  • The author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text
  • A complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page.
  • The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses.
  • Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).
  • Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).
  • Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
works cited page
Works Cited Page
  • Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth
  • If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where they would find the following information:
  • Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: Oxford U.P., 1967. Print.
basic rules
Basic Rules
  • Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
  • Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.
  • Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
  • Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you create a hanging indent.
  • List page numbers of sources efficiently, when needed. If you refer to a journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250, list the page numbers on your Works Cited page as 225-50.
new mla rules
New MLA Rules
  • For every entry, you must determine the Medium of Publication. Most entries will likely be listed as Print or Web sources, but other possibilities may include Film, CD-ROM, or DVD.
  • Writers are no longer required to provide URLs for Web entries. However, if your instructor or publisher insists on them, include them in angle brackets after the entry and end with a period. For long URLs, break lines only at slashes.
  • If you're citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.
capitalization and punctuation
Capitalization and Punctuation
  • Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalize articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
  • New to MLA 2009: Use italics (instead of underlining) for titles of larger works (books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles)
listing author names
Listing Author Names
  • Entries are listed alphabetically by the author's last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names are written last name first; middle names or middle initials follow the first name:
  • Burke, Kenneth
  • Levy, David M.
  • Wallace, David Foster
  • Do not list titles (Dr., Sir, Saint, etc.) or degrees (PhD, MA, DDS, etc.) with names.

A book listing an author named "John Bigbrain, PhD" appears simply as "Bigbrain, John"; do, however, include suffixes like "Jr." or "II." Putting it all together, a work by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be cited as "King, Martin Luther, Jr.," with the suffix following the first or middle name and a comma.

basic works cited format book
Basic Works Cited FormatBook
  • The first-give author’s name or a book with a single author's name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:
  • Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
advanced works cited format for a collection
Advanced Works Cited Formatfor a Collection
  • Lastname, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's Name(s). Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.
  • Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Raven” Language and Literacy. Ed. Pearson. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. 674-678. Print.
  • If done properly on all reading journals worth five (5) points extra credit
internet source citation
Internet Source Citation
  • Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/ organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.
internet source example
Internet Source Example

Author. “Title” Source. City: Publisher, Year. Web. Date.

Williams, Heidi. “Spanking Should be Illegal.” Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Web. 16 Feb 2011.

citing the internet for electronic and internet sources follow the following guidelines
Citing the InternetFor electronic and Internet sources, follow the following guidelines:
  • Include in the text the first item that appears in the Work Cited entry that corresponds to the citation
  • You do not need to give paragraph numbers or page numbers
  • Unless you must list the website name in the signal phrase in order to get the reader to the appropriate entry, do not include URLs in-text.


“it was not long ago that spousal abuse was considered ‘ordinary or normal’” (Williams)